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International Cold Remedies

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International Cold Remedies

"A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold" ~ Ogden Nash

This is a re-post from 2009, but since I'm sick again, here are some ideas of how families all over the world are trying to fight the cold.

Sore throat, stuffy nose, dizzy head, aching body - anyone here who hasn't had a cold before? Lucky you! There's a lot to be said about prevention, but unless you're a hermit on some tropical island - strike that. The cold virus is going to get you, sooner or later, no matter where you are, no matter how much echinacea you ingest, no matter how many disinfectant wipes you're using. And when it hits you, what do you do?

If you're in Germany, you might be offered hot milk with honey. This is a sweet and tasty drink that might soothe your throat at first, but the dairy will likely build up phlegm and mucus in your bronchi, so you decide between short term relief and long term, well, substantial coughing. I have also heard about the sweat-inducing properties of a bottle of warm beer, but you might not want to give that to your kids. If it's a tickly throat that's bothering you, you can also try wiggling your finger in your ear (something about connecting nerves) or cutting up an onion and leaving by your bedside while you sleep. Smelly, but effective. As are nasal lavages, or letting saline solution flow in one nostril and out the other with the help of e.g. a Neti Pot. Clears your sinuses right up; doesn't have the overall pore-opening effect of steam-inhalations with mint oil.

Mexicans like brewing a tea out of oregano, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, and lemon peel, adding honey for sweetness. In Colombia, on the other hand, you might be offered orange juice with honey and melted butter.

Canadians seem to favor the mustard compress (mustard powder and water on a cloth) on the chest to help free the airwaves. Their US-American neighbors gargle with salt water or drink hot teas made from various onion, garlic, chili, honey and lemon mixtures. Chemical remedies are also easily available in the land of the free.

Hot cold-remedying liquids in Japan are very likely to contain ginger, green onion, and green tea. The more adventurous prefer sake and an egg. In India, you'll find cardamoms, cloves, basil, pepper, caraway seeds and cinnamon in your chai, and you may be offered to suck on licorice, too.

One of my all-time favorite cold remedies must be the Hot Toddy. Enjoyed in Ireland, Great Britain, and anywhere you have people of Irish or British descent, take a shot of whisky, add hot water, drop in a lemon wedge spiked with whole cloves, add honey or sugar to taste, and down the good stuff as hot as you can before going to bed.

For more organic hot cold-remedying drinks ideas, check out Natural News or eHow.

That's the whole trick, isn't it. Liquids for hydration, vitamins (lemons, oranges, garlic, onion) for speedy cell renewal and extracting mucus, and good old-fashioned rest. Not too many alcoholic liquids, but you get the idea. My ex-boss in Spain used to say, "use the chemical hammer (cold medicine) and it'll last seven days, go to bed and sweat it out and you'll be rid of it in a week." I think I'm going to go for a mixture of the two to get rid of the latest bout of the sniffles I'm battling right now. :-)

Hope these lines find you fit and healthy, or have given you some ideas how soon to be healthy again. If symptoms persist, do see your doctor, and if you have a family recipe sure to cure the common cold, please post it below! Til next week, have a good one.

Image by Sammy JayJay, Flickr, Creative Commons License.


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Nature and Nurture

Where Personality Type and Culture frameworks meet!

I am so honored to give a presentation to my local Association for Psychological Type chapter about the two topics closest to my heart: how our brains are wired (type) and how our environment influences our behavior (culture). If you're in Dallas on July 17th, why not come by? Please go to the Linked In Event page to register.

What do you think of the invitation video?

And what would have to happen for you to attend and love the presentation? What content would you expect, which questions would you want to have answered?

Since there has been interest expressed from Europe and New Zealand (hiya! :-)) I'll be preparing a webinar for those who can't attend in person. Let me know what you'd like to see covered, ok? That would really help my extraverted Feeling's aim to please. ;-)

Thanks so much and be well,


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Happy Halloween!

barack-jack-o-lantern_Feliz Día de los Muertos! Todos los Santos! Allerheiligen! La Toussaint!

How are you celebrating this weekend?

You probably already know that the name comes from "All Hallows' Evening," or the eve of All Saints. Historically, this celebration combined the change from summer to winter with the honoring of the departed souls. Some cultures prefer a somber, dignified atmosphere, others like Mexico have a hell of a party.

In the USA you'll have noticed the pumpkin, black and orange decorations for the past couple of months. Thanks to the powerful influence of pop culture, the carved pumpkin, or jack-o'-lantern, has also found its way into remote areas like Japan and India. Many Americans go a little crazy when it comes to decorating their houses and gardens this time of year, but if you think this is over the top, wait until Christmas. You ain't seen nothin' yet, my friend. ;-) Tonight, children go trick-or-treating, which means they dress up in costumes and expect to receive candy from the neighbors.

In Germany we have a similar tradition on St. Martin's Day on November 11th, except the kids don't usually dress up, but carry an actual lantern and have to sing a song or recite a wee poem to get a treat. I don't remember threatening debauchery for not getting sweets, either. I do remember collecting many apples and mandarins though.

In Celtic countries the celebrations pre-date today's All Saints, and may include harvest festivals. Many still light a candle for the dead, and wear costumes or masks to ward off evil spirits. One theory to explain the curious overlapping of an originally pagan ritual with the Christian holiday of All Saints, by the way, is the church in its early days scheduling its holidays along the same time frames as ancient pagan rituals. This made convincing heathens to take on the new faith a lot easier.

When living in Barcelona, Spain, I remember fabulous costume parties at my friends' house on their terrace, and eating copious amounts of coca. That's a cake with anise seeds and orange glaze and it tastes oh so good. For the nuttier types, this is the season of street vendors underlining your shopping excursions with the aroma of roasted chestnuts.

Here are some photos of our Día de los Muertos in Mexico two years ago, where we enjoyed a parade and theatrical performances. Their cemeteries are the only ones I know that don't look sad, but are covered in flowers and decorations of all the colors of the rainbow.

For expats spending traditional holidays in different cultures that may never have heard of your type of celebration, I encourage you to plan ahead and bring pertinent decoration material and special food ingredients with you on your trip. This will allow you to continue with your traditions, maintain a sense of stability in the lives of your children, and maybe even educate your neighbors about your own personal history and culture. Wherever you are, whatever you do, this is an opportunity to remember those who have left this earth. Visit graves, light candles, put out food for the lost souls, and let's celebrate the life we still have while we're at it.

Carpe diem!

Til next week, have a good one! Thanks to Cooper/Michael for the pic.

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Expat Survey Findings

As some of you know, I prepared a short survey for expats that was meant to help me find out more about the gap between expectations and actual experience concerning their international relocation. The most important point for me, and the most interesting, was to find out if the respondents felt that the support of an expat coach like myself would add significant value during the international relocation.

The questions were open-ended and gave respondents the opportunity to be as honest and detailed as they wished. A big THANK YOU! to all those who participated. In the following I will paraphrase some of the responses:

Question 1: Relocation process - What went well? What were your expectations, what surprised you?

  • The company's support for the actual physical move / hiring a professional moving company was an excellent idea that relieved a lot of possible stress.
  • The lower cost of living turned out to be financially quite profitable.
  • I was surprised by little differences and how much I actually missed my home country.

Question 2: Relocation process - What went badly? What were your expectations, what surprised you?

  • Some furniture was damaged and belongings had suspiciously changed boxes during transit.
  • Connection to HQ office got interrupted and I was out-of-the-loop regarding opportunities back home.
  • No language training made the first months abroad impossible.
  • The company was oblivious to tax and social security implications of long-term stays abroad.
  • No credit-history in the US made it really hard to buy a car and a house.
  • I suggest to plan time to deal with "separation anxiety" when it comes to figuring out which things to pack and which to leave behind.
  • I was surprised by the overall cost of the move and the cost to stock a new household.

Question 3: Emotions - How was it for you? What were your expectations, what surprised you? Were you offered psychological support?

  • Saying good-bye to elderly friends/family is especially hard. What if this is the last time I see them?
  • Psychological support may be offered but I don't trust its confidentiality.
  • I didn't need psychological support, but it would have been helpful for my wife.
  • I didn't plan to integrate into the host culture for the planned number of months I was supposed to be there - but then the assignment time frame tripled.
  • I am a "trailing spouse". Nothing changed for my husband, but I had to give up my career, my life, and my family and start all over again.
  • You might miss certain friends or dates. Tip: stay involved with the people back home, read the local paper online, and travel back regularly.

Question 4: Review - in your opinion, would talking to a Coach who specializes in Expat relocations add significant value?

  • There are programs in place that you have to ask for. They are good ideas but poorly implemented; too little too late, impersonal, and lacking warmth. A Coach could offer great human support.
  • Yes, plus language and culture training.
  • Yes, especially if a move isn't supported by an organization.
  • Definitely - to overcome fears, aid communication, keep up the good spirit, help set up new social network, deal with cultural differences, help understand mentalities and manage expectations, recognize the opportunity to adjust own set of values and support the career progress in the new country.
  • Yes, especially if the coach knows about the location or if the location has special culture-shock potential. Most helpful would be session(s) on expectations/motivations for the move, then a check-list of "to do's".

Question 5: In case you've already repatriated or are about to, what are some of the hopes and fears you are experiencing? For which areas would you like to get support?

  • I would like support in my home country.
  • I fear having lost my social network, feeling strange after having been away, and would like support.
  • I have lots of experience and know that social contacts matter the most.
  • I fear to be forgotten by my old friends and that I'm not up-to-date with the political and economic situation.

What did I take away from this? Companies are doing a good job helping their expats with the physical move and, in some cases, offer attractive financial incentives. Most expats are prepared for, positive and excited about the move. There is still plenty of room for improvement when it comes to excellent all-round relocation, and the responsibility to make the experience an enjoyable and successful one lie with both expat and organization. Check back in the following weeks for more information on what you can do to make the best of your opportunities.

I will keep the survey open until the end of the year, please do feel free to add your opinions and feedback by clicking on the provided link. If you are interested in further information about expat surveys, here are some more to browse through:

Nina Cole: Managing Global Talent: Solving the Spousal Adjustment Problem (content of this link has been moved, please google!)

HSBC Bank: International Expat Explorer Survey 08

The Interchange Institute: various research reports

Yvonne McNulty: The Trailing Spouse

Robin Pascoe: Family Matters (click on the link on the bottom-right of the homepage)

Thank you John Vernon for the free image.

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